Updated February 27th
Please note I have had to change my email address , which now is laurie.manser@gmail.com please use  this if you wish to contact me.
I do hope that some of the hints will be of use to you, I can only say what I do and why I do it
 as , there is not a right or wrong way of doing things in gardening .
I did write a small book about my life from a garden boy in the 40's and we sold it when I did my "Memory" talk, we donated 50p per book to the British Heart Foundation who received over £1000.00 as a result. I do not get it printed now but on the right is a link by which you can download it to read.
I have been asked to put my talk on to a disc for those who have been unable to hear it, I have done this and a few discs are available ,please email me for details.
At the bottom of this page if you click on "older posts" there are more hints

Garden Hints for March

  March is a very busy month with many seeds to sow but please wait until  the soil is in  a god condition.
We should not rush just because of the date but work with the weather and soil. I write these hints a month before you read them so please work with your garden rather than me. If the soil has not dried out you really must wait as you can do more harm than good if it is too wet. The first sowing of almost all the vegetables can be done this month with later sowings to extend the season. Often we tend to sow too deep and far too thick, if you can make a very shallow drill with the tip of a hoe and then using the back of the rake just push a very small amount of soil on top of the seeds that is enough. I suggest using the back of the rake as the teeth are meant to gather the lumps and you do not want them on top of your seeds. Do not rush with tender vegetables unless you have a frame or greenhouse to keep them growing until planting time.Remember the slugs which will thin you seedlings if not eat them all. They keep taking various things away on the grounds of health and safety so I have to leave it to you to decide what you use but do follow the instructions and not over do it. 
Whenever you are taking cuttings you should use a very sharp knife so that the cut heals quickly. Cuttings can be taken from the chrysanthemum stalls and dahlias if you want to increase or renew the plants. Many bedding plants can be sown ready for planting once the frosts are finished.It is not too late if you still want to divide some of your herbaceous plants.As your early daffodils flowers fade it is good to remove the flower head to stop seed forming, unless you are wanting to try raising some new flowers from seed but it does take a number of years but in any case please do leave the foliage for at least six weeks to help with next years bulbs. 
There is a new idea for cutting back you autumn fruiting raspberries, where we used to cut them right down early in March it is now suggested that you cut the canes down by half, this gives you a crop in mid summer on the old canes and the new canes that grow during the season will give you the normal autumn fruit. I have not tried this but it does come from the RHS. A mulch round  raspberries and similar berries will not only feed but also help keep the roots moist. 
Once you can work on the grass without turning it muddy a high cut will tidy the lawn after the long winter. Once the weather warms up a light feed of fertilizer will help the grass recover from the bad winter.

Seed Potatoes

 Now ready for planting once I can get the soil in condition.

Have just bought the seed potatoes for this year I am going to try the blight resistant Sarpo ones to see how they go. The local "experts" on the radio say it is much too early to start to chit potatoes but this is what I have done for many  years with no problems but the we all do it different. I am sure our grand daughter will look after them.

more onion news

Following my pictures of my onions growing , I entered the local show with 8 entries giving me 4 firsts and 4 seconds including 2 cups , one of which was for onions. I have said I would  put details of what I do for white rot in onions. As soon as possible after I lift the crop I spread garlic powder over the soil.I use "Nutritional Garlic Powder " the is intended for horses, it costs £2.45 for 500g  bought online. this does mean I use the same plot each  year that some people will not agree with but that is my way. I dig the soil before planting in the spring, and avoid walking from other areas onto my onion bed.

Onion 2016


I am putting these pictures onto my website to show the effect of using garlic powder for white rot. When I first took over this plot I suffered a complete loss of my onion crop due to white rot, I have treated this area with garlic powder and this year they really do look good. I just need some sun to help ripen them up.

Sweet peas

It has been a bad year for me with sweet peas, I decided to try saving my own seed last year and this has been very reasonable but when I planted the plants back in March ,  the very next day we had storm Katie. This almost blew them out of the ground but enough survived to amke  best part of a row. As they came into flower I had bud drop plus a spell in hospital, this meant I had to let the plants go for about a week meaning bent stems. However when show day came I managed one vase of ten, these were good enough to bet  best in show so I still hold the cup which I forst won 42 years ago. I have not had it every year but will keep trying.

Some of my seedling daffodils

These are 3 of my seedlings that I have registered and named over the years. I have had prizes at London shows with them including "Best" in section with Ann's Blush. We also have Molly Ann named after our grand daugther
Top bloom Ann's White , bottom left Ann's Cream.and bottom right Ann.s Blush

Broad Beans 2016

Thess last two photos were taken on May 8th, the row is not complete as I lost a few in the bad storm but should get a good crop before the blackfly start
In past years I have sown my Aquadulce broad beans direct in the round in Oct/Nov but this year as the ground was very wet and in the past I have lost some to the mice etc. I have tried starting them in a tray. I have no greenhouse now so they have been in a cold frame. They are now ready for planting out and look quite good.

broad beans 2014/15

Broad Beans now in flower , they came through the winter very well.
Some of my Aqaudulce broadbeans , I sow in late October as they are a good hardy variety to stand the winter.  Sometimes they get damaged with servere frost but even then they will break at soil level.

Had some sucess at our show  Saturday April 11th. Many varieties were not out but using those that were I won 4 trophies along with 10 first prizes. I am very pleased as they are all grown on my allottment now having lost our agrden when we moved from the tied house. The pink trumpet is called Pink Silk.

Daphne in bloom , grown from seed

Daphne in bloom , grown from  seed

Top picture shows ready to plant early March

Now ready to plant early March

There seems to be a lot of chat about if we should chit seed potatoes ready to plant or not. I always say there are  many different ways of doing things in gardening, but just looking at the alterantives. If you do not  chit you have to  leave the poatoes in the bag which will give you  long weak shoots whereas the shoots are much better if laid  out, so I chit as in the photos.  I bought these just before  Christmas and they will not be planted for some long time yet. The larger ones will be cut when I plant them.

Onion White rot

I have mentioned before about having white rot in my onions and treating the soil with garlic powder.
I still had white rot badly this year (2014) but reading that others seemed to have more success I thought I would try once more. I am not sure where I got the garlic powder last year but when I got some more this year as used for horses it smelt a lot stronger than last years, so I have once more treaeted the soil and will see what happens next year.

Black Berries and sweet peas

I did post a picture of the large flowers on my blackberry canes , now I have started picking some very nice large blackberries
A fortnight ago I had some success with my sweet peas that I now grow on the allotment, four first prizes with one cup, one medal and a certificate.

Had to thin some of my gooseberries this morning, this is their first year but the branches were touching the ground. I did buy from a  fruit nursery so that they were lifted one day and I planted them with a little "root grow" the next day.

Potatoes,Black berries and Onions all showing promise, the onions are growing where I have lost previous crops with white rot but I have treated the area with garlic powder to check if it does help overcome it.  Latest update shows that the garlic powder was not a success, there is still a lot of white rot in the crop. To bring this right up to date I have havested a few of the onons but the powder really did not work

Spring Show 2014

We managed to put a few entries into the LGA show, Ann got best flower arrangemant and I got the Henry Reader Cup for the best vase of trumpets. I did stage a vase of 3 "MollyAnn" but only got a second.

"Molly Ann" a variety that we have registered with the RHS and Daffodil Society named after our grand daughter.

Managed to win the six vase class and a few others, the single bloom is Bravoure quite a nice 1w/y.
The top photo is top to bottom left to right. Achduart,Estrella, Privateer,Golden Aura,Gold Finger and

Cutting flowers for flower shows

We try to get members to cut their flowers early for shows but many do not think this is possible so I thought I would show how I manage now that we live in a flat and all my flowers are grown on the allotment some 3/4 mile away. The top picture are flowers cut ready for Saturday's show at Bidborough , today is Wednesday, the lower picture are the flowers I used last Saturday at Pembury, they where nearly all cut the previous Sunday as we were going away for a couple of days. Some of the lower ones may be used again this Saturday.

ready to start begonias

I have just got my begonia corms out ready to start. I would if I had some heat etc. have done this some time ago but now I have to make the best I can. Some of these tubers are over 25 years old.

start of the New Year

 Nice sprouts now forming on my seed potatoes but not sure when the ground will dry out enough to think of planting

 Bought some seed potatoes yesterday so have laid them out ready for sprouting. Picked sprouts and purple sprouting this morning on the allotment also managed to weed daffodils ready for a feed of Vitax Q4.This picture was taken mid January